- Ukrainians trying to isolate Russian forces from the city of Kherson
- Signs that Ukrainians regaining the initiative in Donbas
- But Autumn brings rains and mud rendering impassable hampering both sides
- War will last through coming winter and well into 2023.
By the time you read this we’ll be over a week into the much acclaimed Kherson counteroffensive being implemented by Ukrainian forces against the Russian occupiers in that part of the south of the country. This military action has been telegraphed by the Ukrainians for weeks now, and many of us were waiting for it to start. Now apparently it has.
Progress appears to be slow, however, and it looks as if it won’t be that it won’t involve the open-terrain manoeuvre of columns of armoured fighting vehicles that some people may have been expecting. Instead we’re likely to see a slow, grinding ebb and flow of a battle with much use of artillery and long-range missiles. Ukraine still lacks the numbers, the training and experience, and, crucially, the air superiority to allow combined arms manoeuvre in the classic sense.
It’s pretty clear that the Ukrainians are trying to isolate and squeeze out the Russian forces occupying the city of Kherson itself, situated as it is on the west bank of the Dnipr river which separates them from friendly forces on the eastern side. From a tactical point of view, it would seem to make sense for the Russians to evacuate the city, drop the bridges connecting it to the eastern bank, and defend from the major river obstacle. But this may not be acceptable politically, as it would be seen as a major Ukrainian victory.
Elsewhere in the Donbas there are signs that the Ukrainians may be regaining the initiative and are increasingly on the front foot. But the same caveats about numbers, training, and air superiority apply here too. Autumn is fast approaching and with it the rains and mud which might render all non-metalled roads more or less impassable, hampering any war of manoeuvre further. It looks at the moment like the war will last through the coming winter and well into 2023.